Life After Death
A clamoring crowd fades in the background as Grimskull exits his stage.
His people have given him their complete trust.
As the Slum God descends into the pits of his domain, his attention is called by a not-uncommon sound.
But this is not the wailing of one who has found the embrace of pain.
No, instead it’s a single man, crumpled against a wall, folded in on himself. His pain is palpable as the Preacher kneels beside him.
“Let it out,” Grimskull warmly rumbles. “Bleed your pain unto the silence.”
“My child…” The man’s story pours forth like an untamed river. “I did all he asked… I tried… she’s gone…”
Grimskull absorbs the tale, a sponge soaking up a sea of sorrow. When the man’s words run dry, the Preacher speaks.
“Your blood-tainted sorrow is the strongest link to what is lost,” he speaks, graveled voice flowing like balm. “It is the stream between you and your child, her memory mirrored in each tear you shed.”
The corner of Grimskull’s lips tug into a smile. Is he thinking of someone else?
“But there are those,” Grimskull continues, “who color their pain in the hues of brutality. They wear their suffering like masks, hiding behind a facade of meticulous motions and numb apathy.”
His words blend with the silence, tinging the air with an unspoken condemnation.
“With life,” Grimskull muses, “there’s an undying rhythm to pain. Only when you embrace it, dance with it, can the rhythm guide you. Only then can the song of your suffering truly be heard.”
Understanding flickers in the man’s teardrop-splattered gaze.
“As long as you deny the truth of your daughter, as long as you try to hide the blood staining your hands, your face, your whole body, then she will always be dead, just a faded memory painted in blood.”
The man lowers his head.
“But when you embrace the pain, my friend, then she will truly live once more. Her memory will remain strong, vibrantly painted upon your brow, in your every motion. Only by letting go of your what was will you become all that you can be, Harold.”
“Harold?” The man mutters. “My name…”
“Just thinking of another wayward soul, my child,” Grimskull says, “one who refuses to embrace the truth.”
“If he walked your path, my child, one of bleeding your pain willingly unto the silence, then you and he could dance to your shared rhythm.”
A hint of sadness creeps into Grimskull’s tone.
“For Harold Attano’s daughter is gone as well, another victim of this cruel world. Day after day, he sheds the blood of others to atone for her death, but he hides behind his own mask of suffering. From Death Row to Olympus, he and I have walked the same road.”
Standing to his feet, Grimskull towers over the grieving father.
“I wonder what might happen to Harold Attano if his own blood was spilled for one night, as mine was?” The Preacher queries. “Will he embrace his daughter’s life after death, or will she remain a buried memory?”
Chuckling, Grimskull takes his leave.